The tame Apple Press has enthusiastically been running storied about how well Apple is doing in China. Reuters for example has been saying that the one million pre-orders that Jobs’ Mob has just collected is a triumph for Tim Cook’s negotiating ability. Getting a deal out of China Mobile was something the sainted Steve Jobs could not manage.
However saner heads are urging caution, While it is true that launching its iPhone on China Mobile vast network on Friday, opening the door to the world’s largest carrier’s 763 million subscribers and giving its China sales a short-term jolt, it is not likely to last. For a start the deal could start a war which China Mobile would not want. Some analysts predicting a costly subsidy war as rival carriers compete to lure customers. If China Mobile does not make its targets on sales for these phones, they are going to increase the subsidies.
China Mobile’s iPhone sales are expected to reach 12 million in its 2014 fiscal year, but its subsidies will leap 57 percent to $7 billion. In addition, the prices are still really high for the Chinese market. For the basic 16GB iPhone 5S, with no subscriber contract, China Mobile is charging $870.
China Unicom and China Telecom slashed their iPhone prices by as much as $210 following the announcement that a deal had been struck between Apple and China Mobile. The pair have also offered a range of cut-price deals on contracts. But there are also some problems with the pre-orders. Reuters checks showed that there were multiple registrations using fake ID numbers which means that people are buying up hoping to make a swift buck on resales.
All this is the least of Apple’s Chinese worries. The outfit has fallen out of favour with consumers who are increasingly opting for domestic products. Those who want an iPhone do not need to pay excessively to get one through China mobile either. In China, you can buy handsets typically smuggled from Hong Kong and then sign up for a China Mobile contract. This is a swings and roundabouts for Apple. If people buy from China Mobile, they will not buy from Hong Kong so it will lose sales there. If they don’t then the China Mobile contract is rubbish.
Sales of Chromebooks enjoyed rapid growth,going from basically nothing in 2012 to more than 20 percent of the U.S. commercial PC market, analyst firm NPD reported, while Windows PCs and Macs remained flat at best.
NPD estimated that, throughout all of 2013, 14.4 million desktops, notebooks, and tablets were sold through U.S. commercial channels, typically resellers. That compares to 16.4 million PCs, overall, sold in the U.S. during the third quarter alone–excluding tablets, according to IDC. All told, about 46.2 million PCs have been sold in the U.S. during 2013, IDC found.
Within that segment, however, NPD reported some intriguing findings. Chromebooks, once largely the province of Acer and Samsung, have been embraced by Dell, HP, and others–not the least of which are paying customers. In 2012, Chromebook sales were “negligible,” NPD reported. But in the space of a single year, they climbed to 21 percent, NPD found, helping push overall notebook PC growth up by 28.9 percent.
Windows notebooks, however, contributed nothing to that, as NPD found that growth was flat. Worse still, Macs actually declined, with combined sales of desktops and notebooks falling by 7 percent. Windows tablet sales tripled, albeit off what NPD called “a very small base”.
The message? Businesses are turning to the Web, which Chromebooks almost exclusively run. And those low-cost, Net-focused devices are becoming engines of productivity. As a result, they’re receiving validation from traditional PC vendors including Acer, Asus, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard, plus Google’s own Pixel.
“The market for personal computing devices in commercial markets continues to shift and change,” saidA Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, in a statement.A “New products like Chromebooks, and reimagined items like Windows tablets, are now supplementing the revitalization that iPads started in personal computing devices. It is no accident that we are seeing the fruits of this change in the commercial markets as business and institutional buyers exploit the flexibility inherent in the new range of choices now open to them.”
Naturally, tablet sales continued to explode, capturing 22 percent(or about 3.16 million units) of all the computing device sales sold through the U.S. channel. Of all tablets sold commercially, iPads dominated with 59 percent of all unit sales, leaving the rest to Android (which grew more than 160 percent) and Windows.
Baker said that diversity will be key to the future success of hardware makers, a signpost for what vendors might release at 2014 and the weeks and months following.
MediaTek raised quite a few eyebrows earlier this year when it announced it would build the world’s first proper ARM octa-core, not a big.LITTLE design. The MT6592 has now popped up on a Chinese site, with the first Antutu results.
It scored 25,496, which places it behind the 1.7GHz Snapdragon in the HTC One, but it’s still a lot faster than the Nexus 4’s Qualcomm APQ8064, although throttling may have something to do with that. The score seems too high, but not long after the results emerged, a number of mobile sites started talking about disappointing results, claiming that MediaTek’s octa-core was somehow supposed to end up on a par with Samsung’s latest Exynos 5 big.LITTLE chip and the Qualcomm 800.
This of course is utter rubbish and FUD of the highest order.
The 28nm MT6592 is indeed an octa-core, but it has eight A7 cores, not a combo of A15 and A7 cores. The A7 is about one fifth of the die area of an A15 and according to ARM it consumes one quarter to one fifth of the power, making such comparisons asinine. In other words, MediaTek’s octa-core should end up a lot smaller and cheaper than a quad A15, maybe even a quad A12. That is why we find the 25,496 result hard to believe – it should be less, not more. For example, the Tegra 4 on Shield hits about 36,000, yet it’s a much bigger chip, on a device with more RAM.
The benchmarked chip ran at 1.7GHz, but MediaTek said the MT6592 should have no trouble hitting 2GHz, which could make it faster than a Snapdragon 600. What’s more, the tested device featured 1GB of RAM, 720p display and a Mali-450 GPU, so it is clearly not high-end.
However, the big problem for MediaTek’s curious new SoC is the sheer number of cores. Most apps simply can’t put them to good use and unless MediaTek has a clever trick up its sleeve, the chip might not be nearly as fast in real world applications. It does look promising in benchmarks, though.
Kaveri is coming in a few months, but before it ships AMD will apparently spice up the Richland line-up with a few low-power parts.
CPU World has come across an interesting listing, which points to two new 45W chips, the A8-6500T and the A10-6700T. Both are quads with 4MB of cache. The A8-6500T is clocked at 2.1GHz and can hit 3.1GHz on Turbo, while the A10-6700T’s base clock is 2.5GHz and it maxes out at 3500MHz.
The prices are $108 and $155 for the A8 and A10 respectively, which doesn’t sound too bad although they are still significantly pricier than regular FM2 parts.
AMD really needs to make up its mind and figure out how it interprets its own roadmaps. A few weeks ago the company said desktop Kaveri parts should hit the channel in mid-February 2014. The original plan called for a launch in late 2013, but AMD insists the chip was not delayed.
Now though, it told Computerbase.de that the first desktop chips will indeed appear in late 2013 rather than 2014, while mobile chips will be showcased at CES 2014 and they will launch in late Q1 or early Q2 2014.
As we reported earlier, the first FM2+ boards are already showing up on the market, but at this point it’s hard to say when Kaveri desktop APUs will actually be available. The most logical explanation is that they will be announced sometime in Q4, with retail availability coming some two months later.
Kaveri is a much bigger deal than Richland, which was basically Trinity done right. Kaveri is based on new Steamroller cores, it packs GCN graphics and it’s a 28nm part. It is expected to deliver a significant IPC boost over Piledriver-based chips, but we don’t have any exact numbers to report.
Demand for Windows 8 may be still somewhat lukewarm, but Dell is maintaining its stance that it is the best operating system for business tablets and plans to roll out more Windows 8-based products later this year, according to a senior executive at the computer maker.
“Our Windows tablets are more secure and easier to manage than Android-based products and iOS-based products [because Windows is] on our tablets,” said Jeff Clarke, vice chairman and president of global operations at Dell. “And we are not going to change that.”
Windows-based devices accounted for just 4.5% of tablet sales in this year’s second quarter, according to research firm IDC. In comparison, Android-based devices had 62.6% of the tablet market and Apple’s iPad had 32.5%.
The slow adoption of Windows 8 tablets is partly due to their high prices, and to the operating system’s lack of mobile apps, analysts say. Windows 8 has also received mixed reviews, with some people citing its lack of a Start button in the desktop mode as a major problem.
But Dell expects demand for Windows 8 devices to pick up with the availability of Windows 8.1, which Microsoft will release in October.
The acquisition, which was first reported by tech journalist Jessica Lessin, follows other recent mapping purchases for Apple: HopStop, another maker of apps for public transit directions; and Locationary, which provides data about local businesses; and WifiSLAM, an indoor location and mapping company.
Apple did not directly confirm its acquisition of Embark, but in an emailed statement said, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Apple declined to comment further on the deal.
Apple has faced some serious challenges over the past year in providing a consistently solid mapping product with its Maps app. Last September Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to publicly apologize for a series of issues plaguing the company’s Maps app in Apple’s iOS 6 operating system.
Embark is a company based in the San Francisco Bay Area that makes a mobile mapping app designed to help people navigate mass transit systems. The company’s app provides “tailored trips” specific to the user’s region, along with notifications for late-running trains and other advisories and closures.
Embark’s technology, if it does find its way into a future Apple product, could enhance Apple’s mapping products and make the company a stronger competitor to rivals like Google. Google’s Maps app already offers real-time public transit navigation features, as do some smaller players like iTransitBuddy.
Embark’s app is available for free on the iPhone for 10 transit systems including Boston’s MBTA, Chicago’s L, the New York City Subway and San Francisco’s Bart and Caltrain systems, with more on the way, according to Embark’s website.
It is not clear whether Embark’s app will be shut down as part of the acquisition. The app was still available in Apple’s App Store at the time of this article’s posting.
Embark’s team could not be immediately reached to comment on the deal.
The necromancy department of Apple has been summoning the spirit of Steve Jobs in the hope of turning around its current dismal growth figures. For a while now, even amongst Apple fanboys, there has been a belief that Jobs’ Mob has gone done the tubes since Jobs croaked.
It is a myth of course, Jobs’ specialty was not innovation but to market a working ideas as if it were his own. But either way Apple is attempting to try and convince everyone that the new iPhone was personally designed by its former CEO. Even after being dead for a while now, and having no impact over the disasters the company has since suffered, Jobs apparently was on board for the iPhone 5S.
According to Apple’s government liaison Michael Foulkes, Jobs oversaw the design of two models of iPhone to go on sale after his death. We suspect that it will take full resurrection before anyone takes this particular spin seriously. If Jobs could really see into the future and predict where his toys would be three years after he died, we would have thought he would have also seen that was a stupid idea not to accept conventional medical treatment for his cancer until it was too late.
Intel’s new SSD 530 series was detailed a while ago, but now it is finally official. Intel has formally announced the new drives in three form factors: mSATA, M.2 and 2.5-inch.
The drives will be available in a wide range of capacities, starting at 80GB, through 120GB, 180GB, 240GB, 360GB and 480GB for 2.5-inch drives. As for M.2 and mSATA drives, they will be available in 80GB, 120GB, 180GB and 360GB capacities.
Intel’s new 530 drives are based on 20nm MLC flash and the brains behind the brawn come from LSI, in the form of the SandForce SF-2281 controller. Although transfer speeds will vary depending on capacity, the fastest 530-series drives will deliver read speeds of up to 540MB/s and write at 490MB/s. As for random performance, they boast 41k IOPS in random read and 80k IOPS in random write.
Intel also says the 530-series is its most power efficient storage product to date, which is hardly surprising, but it is good news for notebook vendors who will use mSATA units.
ARM’s upcoming ARMv8 architecture will form the basis for several processors that will end up in servers. Now the firm has announced that it will work with Oracle to optimise Java SE for the architecture to squeeze out as much performance as possible.
ARM’s chip licensees are looking to the 64-bit ARMv8 architecture to make a splash in the low-power server market and go up against Intel’s Atom processors. However unlike Intel that can make use of software already optimised for x86, ARM and its vendors need to work with software firms to ensure that the new architecture will be supported at launch.
Oracle’s Java is a vital piece of software that is used by enterprise firms to run back-end systems, so poor performance from the Java virtual machine could be a serious problem for ARM and its licensees. To prevent that, ARM said it will work with Oracle to improve performance, boot-up performance and power efficiency, and optimize libraries.
Henrik Stahl, VP of Java Product Management at Oracle said, “The long-standing relationship between ARM and Oracle has enabled our mutual technologies to be deployed across a broad spectrum of products and applications.
“By working closely with ARM to enhance the JVM, adding support for 64-bit ARM technology and optimizing other aspects of the Java SE product for the ARM architecture, enterprise and embedded customers can reap the benefits of high-performance, energy-efficient platforms based on ARM technology.”
A number of ARM vendors including x86 stalwart AMD are expected to bring out 64-bit ARMv8 processors in 2014, though it is thought that Applied Micro will be the first to market with an ARMv8 processor chip later this year.